“Maozi jewel... Finally, it’s returned to the Hartmann family...,” Dad muttered.
“Are you sure it’s genuine?” Mom asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I can feel it. Here, Cass, feel the jewel’s energy,” Dad handed over the jewel to Mom.
Mom held the jewel and gasped, “This feeling is...?!”
Dad nodded, “Yeah. It’s exactly as you think.”
“Mom, Dad, what’s that? What makes it unique?” Alt-nii was the first one to lose his patience and asked the question I had in my mind, too.
Dad and Mom stopped “being in their own world” and perhaps they finally remembered that their kids were here, too?
Dad took a long breath before his face showed a determined expression.
“Alright, it’s explanation time. Look at this jewel, kids,” Dad said as Mom handed over the jewel to him again—then Dad proceeded to show the jewel in front of me, Alt-nii, and the twins.
“This jewel is called Maozi jewel, the Hartmann family’s heirloom,” Dad said, “Do you want to try touching it? Be careful.”
He then let Alt-nii hold the Maozi jewel.
“Wow, beautiful!” Alt-nii said as he gently caressed the jewel on his hand.
“Hmm... And it emits a weird feeling somehow,” he commented before passing it to me.
When I touched the jewel, I felt something odd. I felt someone else’s presence peering deep into me. Like a cat’s sharp eyes, examining someone.
However, the feeling didn’t last too long. I took a long stare at the jewel. Beautiful white jewel with this weird bluish light wavering about inside.
“Pretty...,” I muttered.
The twins—the original owner of this jewel—nodded enthusiastically.
I looked at them and was about to hand them the jewel, but they lightly shook their heads.
Alright, I’d just give it back to Dad.
“If it’s originally our family’s heirloom, is there something special about it?” I asked Dad.
After all, I already knew the Grabberton family and the Fumitsuna family’s heirlooms. Both of their heirlooms were weapons, so it was easy to tell.
As for this jewel... I imagined it having some kind of magical attribute, befitting a family or a clan of magicians!
Dad took back the jewel and gazed at it.
“Hmm... Yes. If we were to use our special arts while holding this jewel, we would be able to transform into a... cat beastman—or werebeast, to be more exact. And using their power to the fullest extent,” Dad explained.
“Eh? C-cat werebeast, transformation, using the power to the fullest extent?” Alt-nii was startled.
That seems like a nice power!
But at that time, I suddenly remembered the limitation of our Transformation art.
It’s hard to do and we shouldn’t be able to transform into a dragon or werebeast’s form, let alone using their power to the fullest extent. We can only transform our appearance, yet the power we have will depend on us. To transform into a bird and fly, we can actually do that by incorporating our magical power.
That alone is already a cheat for us as transformation magic is dangerous and hard in nature.
Dad just said we could actually transform into a werebeast and use the power freely...
“Dad, how could this jewel let us do that?” I asked for an explanation I could accept.
“This... how to put it?” Dad scratched his head.
“Remember how normal magicians would often need medium such as sacrifice or life force to transform?” Dad asked.
“Yes... eh...,” I had a hunch.
“See this blue light over here? It’s said to be a cat werebeast’s fragment of soul,” Dad explained.
I was startled.
How did our ancestor manage to get a cat werebeast’s fragment of soul trapped inside this jewel...?
I shivered imagining some cruel happening in the past... Ah well, it was a cruel period full of wars and death, so I guess...
Now I’m not sure if I want to try using this jewel’s power anymore.
“Ah, don’t worry, Lyra. I heard that our ancestor didn’t do any evil deed such as making a sacrifice or killing a cat werebeast and trapping its soul inside... It’s said to be a voluntary sacrifice that was... necessary at that point,” Dad explained the history behind Maozi jewel.
“Uuu... really? I’m glad...,” I heaved a sigh in relief.
But then, I remembered.
History was written by the winner—and they could actually alter anything there... was that really the truth or the matter, or...?
However, I want to believe that it was exactly as Dad said.
Still... Necessary sacrifice... That would surely make a sad story...
I looked at the Maozi jewel in sympathy. As if the blue light—the soul inside sensed it, it wavered several times to me.
“That’s actually awesome, Dad! I want to experience transforming into a cat werebeast...,” Alt-nii said.
“Yes, but let me try it first just to make sure it’s safe for your kids. We haven’t heard anything about this jewel ever since... the twins’ paternal grandmother escaped from the Hartmann home,” Dad said with a bitter smile.
“Oh, did she take the jewel with her, and that was how the jewel was in the twins’ hands?” I asked.
The twins were looking at Dad earnestly, wanting to hear the full story, too.
Their paternal grandmother must have been a wondrous woman! To run away from the corrupted household, smuggling the family heirloom while at it?
“The Maozi jewel originally belonged to her, that was why she kept it, I guess,” Dad said.
“Originally belonged to her?” I tilted my head in confusion.
Isn’t this the family heirloom, meaning it should be passed from generation to generation in the Hartmann family, not to be in the possession of someone who separated herself from the family?
“Ah, that’s where the Maozi jewel’s significance comes out. This Maozi jewel is an indicator to who will inherit the Hartmann family,” Dad said.
“Huh? Do you mean...,” Alt-nii caught the meaning behind Dad’s words as well.
“Yes. The Maozi jewel at that time didn’t chose Boris. It chose his sister instead, making her the rightful owner of the family heirloom,” Dad explained.
The Maozi jewel didn’t choose the wrong person...!
Still, how could the Hartmann family get involved in such wrongdoing for some generations if it were to choose the rightful heir? Or did some shady matter happen?
“T-then, Dad, does the Maozi jewel choose you now? I mean, with you being the duke and all...,” I was excited to see how the Maozi jewel chose the head of the family.
“Well... While it’s highly likely that the jewel will choose the direct descendant of its previous holder... Sometimes it’s possible... Hmm, that’s right. Shall we try it out?” Dad asked. His eyes showed curiosity as well now.
The twins eagerly nodded. Looking at their expressions, it seemed to me that they didn’t really understand the whole matter fully, but they were curious.
“Okay... If I’m not mistaken... This is how we should do it,” Dad said as he caressed the Maozi jewel and seemed to be emitting his magical power.
“Maozi jewel, tell me, am I worthy enough to be the current head of the Hartmann family?” He asked.
The blue light that was only wavering slightly—suddenly moved more vehemently. The blue light enveloped the whole jewel before it shone beautifully and brightly.
The light dimmed after a while, leaving the Maozi jewel in its original state.
“This is...?” I asked.
“...It would seem that the Maozi jewel said I was worthy enough for my title as the current head,” Dad smiled.
“Right? So you don’t need to worry if the nobles were to criticize you and your origin,” Mom said.
“Well, I’m prouder of my maternal origin than my paternal origin, sadly,” Dad bitterly smiled.
“Can it select the next heir, then?” Alt-nii suddenly asked.
Dad and Mom were surprised—and I was surprised as well.
I mean, isn’t it already set in stone that Alt-nii will inherit Dad’s title? Or... it isn’t?
To be honest, I’m not that interested in the ‘heir’ title, so... it doesn’t matter to me, anyway.
“Well... we can, but...,” Dad was hesitant.
“Why don’t we just try it out? It’s not like we have to fully abide to the jewel’s wish, right? There was a history where the previous Hartmann heads ignored the jewel’s decision and appointed another anyway,” Mom said, affirming my guess that someone in the past didn’t obey the jewel’s will.
“It’s more important to pick who’s more willing. Can’t do anything if the person picked isn’t willing, right? Like how Boris’ sister ran away instead of becoming the head of the family,” Mom added.
I was a bit relieved because I didn’t want to imagine the jewel suddenly choosing me... Not like it would happen, anyway!
“Is it possible for it to react to everyone here?” I asked in curiosity as I remembered the founder of the Hartmann family was... or were, twins.
“It might be possible,” Dad answered.
“Wanna try, Lyra?” He offered me the jewel.
“E-eh, me first?” I hastily asked.
“Yeah, I’ll let you do it first, Lyra!” Alt-nii agreed.
“U-uu, t-then, sure,” I gulped.
“Alright... Maozi jewel, can you give us your insight regarding the next heir to the Hartmann family? The one who will continue the family?” Dad asked as he caressed the jewel again and poured his magical power inside.
The blue light shook again, perhaps indicating that it would do its role.
After it was done, Dad handed the jewel to me.
I nervously accepted the jewel and waited as I held it with my hands.
“It didn’t react. I’m not the chosen one,” I said, and my voice unconsciously revealed my joy.
“...You seem to be relieved, Lyra?” Mom seemed to be intrigued by my response.
“Yes, I’m not that interested in becoming the heir,” I said confidently.
“Hmm... Can you try stroking the jewel, Lyra? Just in case,” Dad said after he pondered a bit.
“E-eh? Sure...,” I said before I stroked the jewel nervously.
Again, nothing happened.
Phew, I’m safe from the heir flag~!
“Alright, why don’t you try it, Alt-nii? I’m sure it will react!” I said as I handed it over to Alt-nii.
“Hmm, Lyra, you’re not interested in becoming the heir... Could you be more interested in marrying into another family and become the family’s lady instead?” Alt-nii asked teasingly.
ALT-NII, DON’T TRIGGER DAD!
Dad’s smile was warped a bit before Mom suddenly said:
“Hey, remember that you will have to see Lyra getting married in the end, no matter if she will become the heir or not.”
Dad showed a dejected expression.
W-well, I’m not going to object as I dream of having a dreamy love story and a happy marriage in the future!
Mom made a sharp glare at Alt-nii, but Alt-nii only chuckled at Mom’s reprimanding look.
All of this happened while Alt-nii was holding the jewel.
“I’ll try to caress it,” Alt-nii said as he proceeded to stroke the jewel.
“Ruru...,” Rurune stared straight at the jewel.
Again, nothing happened.
“Huh?” Alt-nii raised his brows in confusion. He put the jewel back on the table.
“I’m not chosen as the heir?” He said, slightly dejected.
Rurune floated and poked the jewel several times. The blue light moved closer to her paw as if greeting her.
“Ruru~!” Rurune said in delight.
Wait, what’s happening between Rurune and the Maozi jewel?
“Or could it be that the Maozi jewel wanted us to wait until you are all older?” Dad assumed.
“Ah, the twins haven’t tried...?” I asked.
And that raised our attention to the twins. The twins retreated back a bit.
“Aww, don’t be scared! It’s alright, you should try it too, Freyr, Freyja!” Alt-nii encouraged the twins to try it—perhaps despite his feeling of dejection over not being chosen.
Then, the jewel was handed over to Freyja.
Freyja stroked the jewel. No reaction.
She sighed in relief and handed it over to Freyr.
Freyr was soooo nervous that he turned teary-eyed a bit. Nevertheless, he tried.
No reaction, even if he caressed the jewel...
And then he sighed in relief, “Phew!”
We were surprised to see the turn of the events.
“Perhaps it’s really as Dad said, it wants us to wait?” I asked.
“Most likely so,” Mom concluded as well.
Freyja looked at the jewel in curiosity as her hand reached out to the jewel that was on her twin brother’s palm.
The moment her hand touched the jewel—
The blue light swirled and it reacted the same way as it did when Dad was chosen.
“This...,” we were all frozen in surprise.
Even more the twins. They were frozen stiff, with their scared eyes.
“So the Maozi jewel chose the two of you?” Dad said in conclusion after the event that happened.
“Oh, shared heir? That’s a thing. Beside, the founder of the Hartmann family was also a pair of twins. Perhaps it was a really good coincidence,” Mom said meaningfully.
The twins quickly shook their heads in denial and put the jewel back on the table.
The two of them quickly pointed on Alt-nii and I.
“Lyra-neechan!” Freyja called.
“Alt-niichan!” Freyr called.
“”Not us!”” The two of them simultaneously declared.
“Hey, hey, it’s okay, no worries. It’s quite logical seeing how the Maozi jewel originally chose your grandmother. It’s not surprising at all,” Dad calmed the twins down.
“But... Alt-niichan is capable,” Freyr said.
“He’s worthy, right, Mao...zi?” Freyja asked to the jewel.
“Judging from his quality—objectively, yes. But... again, we will never know what will happen in the future. It can be that he’s not chosen because in the future, that quality won’t be good again, but...,” Dad lowered his voice.
“Hey, I’m sure I will become a better person, Dad! Don’t you worry!” Alt-nii protested.
“Yes, you’re right. I also can’t believe in that possibility,” Dad said.
“Possibility as of why the jewel didn’t react to Alt-nii and I, too, despite possessing the quality suitable for an heir?” I asked.
“Yes, the Maozi jewel will react if it deems anyone possible to be the heir. Or so I heard,” Dad said.
“What are the other possibilities, then?” I asked.
“Other possibilities include... if something bad were to...”
Dad wasn’t able to finish his sentence yet before the twins’ yell was heard.
“No, no, no!!”
They shook their heads intensely.
“Uh, right. Don’t worry, there’s another reason to it. They might be destined for something else as well,” Dad said.
“Huh?” I tilted my head in wonder.
“As for what... we don’t know that yet,” Dad said.
“Only time can tell, huh? Well, I don’t mind if I don’t become the heir—the twins can be the next heir... but I’m expecting that my destiny will have something greater in store!” Alt-nii excitedly said.
Haha, right, he’s so like a protagonist of a story...
Dad touched the Maozi jewel again and said:
“You predicted that my children will have another calling, huh? Therefore, you don’t appoint them?”
Dad asked in wonder—perhaps he also didn’t want to think on the negative side that something would happen to... ah, of course I don’t want that, too.
“Just like how the person you appointed before me can escape from her destiny to be the next heir and how your insight was cheated... Okay, then, let’s change the question. Do you think of them as worthy if they were to inherit the house? I’m sure they will be happy to hear your response,” Dad said as he told us to try touching the jewel again.
Alt-nii enthusiastically tried it first and the jewel reacted. Then, I tried it and it reacted as well... And lastly, the twins individually tried it again and the jewel reacted.
“Okay, at least I’m deemed as worthy!” Alt-nii said in delight.
I was happy that it viewed me as worthy although I wasn’t interested...
But, I came to learn something of this “heir” choosing by the heirloom.
That one can possess a quality worthy to be the heir but the Maozi jewel thought of a greater possibility, so it didn’t choose them.
Or that something bad is bound to happen in the future, and thus, the person can’t be the heir...
And that one can actually be appointed as the heir, but was cheated of the position or rejected it~!
In conclusion, although there is such thing as fate and destiny—eventually, it’s still up to ourselves on how we want to draw our future.
“Ah, that’s right. Only those deemed worthy are able to use the jewel’s power. It’s quite picky on its user, huh?” Dad said.
...Okay, I’m really, really glad that it deemed me as worthy!!
I definitely want to try... transforming into a werebeast!!!
In the end, the precious heirloom has returned back to the rightful household, ready to be used properly as the family heirloom again.
Thanks for reading and don't hesitate to comment!
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